©Jacqueline Fallon, Minnesota Zoological Garden
The endangered Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), also known
as the timber wolf, is the most endangered wolf in North
America. The smallest of all the gray wolf subspecies, these
wolves were once abundant throughout the western United States. Wolves are found in groups called packs,
which consist of 7 to 30 individuals.
The greatest threats to the Mexican gray
wolf population are human-related and include habitat loss and hunting. By the turn of the century, a decrease in
prey species such as deer and elk caused many wolves to attack domestic
livestock. To protect their assets, government agencies
and ranchers extirpated the Mexican gray wolf from
the wild by the 1950’s, and they could only be found in zoos and other
facilities. In 1976, the Mexican gray wolf was declared an endangered species and
in 1997, the United States Secretary of the Interior authorized the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service to begin the reintroduction of the species in the Blue Ridge
Wolf Reintroduction Areas of Arizona and New
2010 there were 59 wolves in this area; 46 of which were born in the wild!
The Canid and Hyaenid Taxon Advisory Group and the Mexican Gray Wolf Species Survival Plan ® Program manage more than 340
individuals at 47 AZA-accredited institutions. Several AZA-accredited zoos are
involved in reintroducing these animals back into the wild. In hopes of re-establishing the subspecies to a
portion of its historic range, 40 Mexican grey wolves have been reintroduced in
the Apache National
Forest in southeastern Arizona. Biologists use radio tracking methods to monitor
and evaluate the population health of these animals.
The AZA Conservation Endowment Fund awarded the Wild Canid
Survival and Research Center $6,000 for developing and administering the Mexican
gray wolf keeper training workshop which provides zookeepers with the current
information on nutrition, population management, behavior and the
reintroduction of these animals.
Mexican Gray Wolf Facts
||Mexican gray wolf adults are between 4 and 5
feet long and usually weigh 70 to 90 pounds - about the size of a German
||The Mexican gray wolf is gray with light brown
fur on its back.
||The current Mexican
gray wolf habitat is in the Apache National Forest
in southeastern Arizona and may move into the
neighboring Gila National
Forest in western New
Mexico as the population expands.
||The Mexican gray wolf eats small hoofed animals
like white-tailed deer, mule deer, and elk as well as smaller mammals such as
rabbits, ground squirrels, and mice.
||The Mexican gray wolf mating season occurs between
February and March and the gestation period is 63 days yielding between 4 and 7